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already. But there was no time.

Near the rear of the passenger compartment, Muirne pulled her small bag out from beneath her seat. As she stood, she swayed slightly, and Beel steadied her.

When selecting those who would accompany him and Ing-Radi, Elric had tried to choose not only those he felt he could trust, but those who were older, weaker. Perhaps Kell could have devised a stratagem by which they might deceive the Shadows without losing any life. Elric had failed to conceive such a plan. He believed some, at least, would have to be sacrificed, so that the rest could be saved. He pressed his hand briefly to the decorative pattern that adorned the front of his robe. He had worn the robe not only to draw attention, but also to serve as his own private tribute to Isabelle. She had sacrificed herself so that Galen could live. Many of them would now have to follow her example. Yet, he hoped, not all.

To ensure that they accomplished their task, he had been obliged to take a handful of those who remained young and strong. He had determined to do everything in his power to spare them.

Above all, though, their deception must be successful, so that the main body of the mages could escape unmolested to the hiding place. Yet even with success, the mages would no longer be what they had once been. They were abandoning their commitment to the Code. They were fighting not for good, but for themselves. They were fleeing, leaving the rest of the beings in the galaxy to death and chaos. Elric could not imagine how they could recite the words of the Code after that. Eventually, their time would pass. Once the last of them died, their history, their Code, their deeds, their discoveries would die with them.

They kept their secrets, perhaps, too well.

Muirne and Beel approached,
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